New York Driving Comeback Falters With Virus Surge, Cold Blast

New Yorkers’ return to the roads during the holiday season proved short-lived, with a new surge of the pandemic and freezing weather keeping drivers at home and extending a drag on gasoline demand.

Just over 21 million vehicles paid tolls in January, a 3.9% drop from December, when traffic jumped 14% to the highest since before Covid-19 hit, data from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority show. The survey covers the nine bridges, tunnels and highways linking the New York boroughs and neighboring areas.

New York Driving Comeback Falters With Virus Surge, Cold Blast

New York has been one of the hardest-hit cities during a pandemic that sent the oil markets into a historic collapse last year, and the virus is now raging again. A new round of snow storms and freezing cold is also in store for the city in the coming days.

The traffic reversal tempers recent optimism about the fuel market’s recovery: Indoor dining restrictions in New York are being pulled back Friday, diesel demand has been strong, and PBF Energy Inc., which has two refineries within 150 miles of New York, said Thursday that it saw positive signs in the vaccine rollout.

Stagnant demand has cut support for the cash price for gasoline in New York, which traded at a premium of 0.25 cents over futures on Thursday, down from a winter high of 1.88 cents just last week, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Miles Traveled on U.S. Interstates Down 3% Last Week: DOT

Gasoline demand has been historically weak during the coronavirus pandemic. Last week it was at a seasonal low for this century.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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